NEW JERSEY – The Annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) took a major step toward the finish line on Wednesday, securing the approval of a key congressional committee, including U.S. Representative Mickey Sherrill of New Jersey.
Cheryl, a former Navy helicopter pilot representing the state’s 11th District, was among the members of the House Armed Services Committee to give the green light for NDAA concentrations for fiscal year 2023.
“The U.S. military employs 1.3 million Americans, nearly 10,000 of whom are in New Jersey, and the NDAA is important legislation that translates into economic benefits across the country,” the congressman said.
Federal lawmakers draft a new version of the NDAA each year, setting out defense priorities and providing guidance on how military funding is spent. Congress has passed the NDAA for nearly 60 years in a row, and it usually sees support from all but a few opponents in New Jersey each year.
After a marathon session that lasted through Thursday morning, the House Armed Services Committee voted 57-1 to approve an amendment to the bill that raised its baseline by $37 million. This year the NDAA now provides about $840 billion in total defense spending for fiscal year 2023, topping President Joe Biden’s $813 billion proposal.
The House of Representatives will now bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The Senate still needs to pass its own version of the NDAA; After that, the two chambers will work out differences in the coming months, sending the final version to President Biden’s office. Separate credit notes with corresponding dollar numbers must also be passed in order for the increases to become a reality.
Some of Cheryl’s congressional peers, however, did not agree that the additional $37 billion approved on Wednesday was a good idea.
After the House Armed Services Committee held its margin for the NDAA, Representative Adam Smith of Washington said that “more money is not necessarily the answer.”
Smith insisted that “President Biden’s budget request will meet our country’s defense challenges, and the Department of Defense does not need more than what I asked for.” “I’ve always thought the department needed more discipline, not more money, and I look forward to making that argument again during a robust discussion.”
Rep. Ro Khanna of California also questioned the rise in US military spending. Khanna wrote:
“Part of me wonders when we’re going to get the adjustment to a trillion-dollar defense budget because that seems to be where we’re headed. I mean, every year they basically add $30 billion to what the president wants, and I think that’s what we really need to think about in this Commission. If you support this amendment, you are paving the way for a trillion dollar defense. Is that what we want in this country? Another trillion dollars? More than half of our discretionary budget is allocated to defense compared to all the other needs, the security needs of this country.”
“I just want to be clear – no country in the world puts more than half of its discretionary budget on defence,” Khanna added.
More Military Spending: Is It Good for New Jersey?
According to Cheryl, some of the highlights of the current version of the NDAA include:
- Service members’ pay increased by 4.6 percent, “the highest pay increase in decades.”
- More than $6 billion to fund the European Deterrence Initiative, a “key bulwark against Russian aggression.”
- Nearly $4 billion in funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a program “designed to counter Chinese ambitions in the Pacific.”
- Extension of authorization for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program, so that the United States can “continue to work to deliver on our promises to our Afghan partners.”
Cheryl said this year’s issuance includes several provisions that will funnel millions of dollars into one of the largest employers in her home region – Picatinny Arsenal – which brings more than $1 billion into the New Jersey economy each year.
“North Jersey plays a critical and strategic role in America’s defense and national security,” Cheryl said. “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am proud to call for significant investments in our defense capabilities, including significant research and development work at Picatinny Arsenal, as well as support for brave service members and their families.”
According to Cheryl, some of the biggest spend items on the list at Picatinny Arsenal include:
- An increase of $70 million for the Strategic Long-Range Cannon, a large artillery piece, intended to be able to hit targets at a range of 1,000 miles or more.
- An increase of $40 million for the platform’s remote armament systems, which allows Picatinny to continue creating new and innovative armament systems.
- An increase of $35 million in Armament Digital and mission engineering, which will allow the Army to use analytics and simulation to better develop mission capabilities.
- An increase of $35 million to modernize tactical network technology, which will allow the Army to develop modern and rugged Internet communications networks.
“With the NDAA this year, we are also combating the pressing security threat of climate change by promoting clean energy development, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and cleaning up PFAS, or chemical pollution forever,” Cheryl said.
“I look forward to working with colleagues in the House and Senate to nurture the bill that the committee has reported through the legislative process — to advance these gains for NJ-11 and our country,” Cheryl added.
However, not everyone in the Garden State wants to increase the US military budget.
Some New Jersey advocates have argued that increased military spending is irresponsible, preferring to use taxpayer money for social programs or infrastructure improvements.
“There are more than 800 US bases around the world,” a group of anti-war activists said recently. Yet in America, on average every minute, four people are being evictioned, 30 million don’t have access to health care, $1.5 trillion owes to stifling student loan debt, and 63 percent of the population can’t afford to fix it. $500 emergency fund.
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